- Words Stephanie Bergvelt-Vassileiou
- Photography Grant Spanier & Emmanuelle Pickett
Leah Kate's latest EP, ‘Used To This’, is a true embodiment of her lifelong journey in search of confidence and self-identity paralleled by her IDGAF attitude.
LA-based and raised artist Leah Kate made her debut back in 2019 with her Impulse EP. 2020 has seen her up the ante with her latest EP ‘Used to This’
The rising independent pop artist – whose music feels like a collision of the 90s and 2020s – brings a retro-electro pop style sound that’s vibey, passionate, and brimming with a hopeful future.
Leah’s sound fits perfectly in the pockets between Dua Lipa, King Princess, and Charlotte Lawrence. The up and coming artist manages to capture the young female experience by looking inward at her own life, delivering tracks that will uplift you no matter the situation.
The EP’s opening track “Used to This” is about a love interest that set a solid precedent for Leah, compared to the others she’s dated in the past which is clearly showcased within her writing.
“With ‘Used To This’ I’m trying to convey just what the title says, that I could get used to this feeling and getting treated right finally! I’ve had my fair share of toxic relationships – haven’t we all? – and when someone is finally good to you, it’s so refreshing and inspires you to be the best version of you too,” Leah Kate explains. “I also wanted to keep up with the fun disco vibes – something that’s really taking centre stage in pop right now – to get everything in a positive, groovy mood.”
“Fuck Up the Friendship” (Apple’s Beats of the Week by Beats Dr. Dre) is another undeniably groovy electronic pop meets disco gem track take us through the evident stages of relationships.
“Even in the lead up to my Used To This EP, my first single was all about how I was nervous jumping into something that was clearly a ‘Bad Idea’ and by the second single I’m saying let’s take the risk, see where it goes finishing with ‘Fuck Up The Friendship,” Leah tells.
“Bad Idea”, the final single from the EP, caught a hint of virality thanks to @girls who shared the song with their 5M+ followers on TikTok.
“In a lot of my songs, and something that I think is common in songwriting about an ex or a relationship that is ending, the negatives and all the things that went (or could go) wrong get the spotlight,” Leah says.
Fusing honest and vulnerable lyrics with feel-good dance-worthy production, it’s no surprise Leah’s racked up over 10 million streams to date since her launch in 2019.
We caught up further with Leah Kate to discuss her musical evolution, EP inspiration and what she’s got next in the works.
The collection of this EP is a true embodiment of confidence and self-identity paralleled by an IDGAF attitude. Your songs appear to span several topics, could you expand on that further?
Thank you! My songs are definitely a range of topics but the one thing they all have in common is that they are very truthful and reflective of my life. No matter what kind of song I’m releasing, whether it’s a disco dance-pop song or just me on guitar, the lyrics have to matter and be very truthful to my life.
Did you have any particularly strong influences when working on the project?
Yes. I absolutely was influenced by so many artists while working on this project. Some being music I have on repeat now, some 80’s influences, and some music I listened to a lot growing up. I’m obsessed with Tame Impala, Dua Lipa, and the 1975 album currently which definitely all influence certain sonic elements. Growing up I listened to a bunch of Bon Iver and Joni Mitchell and was/am so inspired by their amazing songwriting. I am super inspired by Madonna and Gwen Stefani who I loved a lot growing up as well.
How does it feel to have your body of work out in the world?
So incredible! These are to date some of my favourite songs I have ever written, and they tell a story about a relationship. Each song is very truthful and reflects an exact event in my life, and the EP goes in chronological order. They are very special to me because I recorded them all in my bedroom and did them during the peaks of quarantining at home with my family. It was a crazy time but I’m grateful that some of my favourite art and work got to come out of it.
The lead track from the EP’s music video is set in the vintage 1960s/70s world. What inspired the concept?
This video was meant to portray new-age disco liberation. I wanted a modern and sexy take on the retro vibe, especially with the apartment and scenery. ‘Used to This is about a love interest that set a solid precedent for me, compared to the others that I’ve dated in the past. The video captures me in a moment of joy, as I finally find a man who treats me right. I wanted the energy of the video to match the song – funky, romantic, retro, and vibey….so all of those elements inspired the video!
What was it like filming the visuals and shooting in the pandemic?
Honestly, I loved every part of it! I feel like I make my best work under pressure, or when things aren’t easy. It was so much fun. I shot with my friend virtually and we both captured different shots and edited virtually. It actually turned out to be my favourite visuals I have ever done. I had limited recourses and there wasn’t much to do so I had to dig hard for ways to bring the vision to life, with very limited options.
Can you talk us through what your process is like when creating new music?
I have many ways of going about creating new music, but the first place to start for me is in the voice notes section of my phone. Usually, I’ll record an idea I have into that like 5 times a day. Even if it’s just a sentence, and then eventually I’ll turn it into an entire song. I hear a lot of things in my head a lot and feel A LOT of types of ways ha-ha always, and I love to write stuff down, so I have a journal with basically everything I’ve ever felt in it. When it comes down to writing the actual song, I usually start with melodies first and then dive into the lyrics!
Fusing honest and vulnerable lyrics seem to be your M.O. How much of yourself do you put into your music? It appears to be your lived experiences, is that a fair assumption to make?
200% of myself goes into my lyrics. If you listen to my songs the one thing you will take away is a better and very clear picture of me. I pour it all in! Openly and honestly, even if it’s hard or something that’s difficult to talk about. Sometimes I know the person I’m writing about will know my song is about them, but I just say f*** it and laugh!!
How have you grown personally since your debut EP release ‘Impulse’ in 2019?
In so many ways, musically, sonically, to emotionally. I feel I have really learned more about who I am, my wants, what kind of people I want to surround myself with, what kind of person I want to be, etc. I work so hard for everything and all of my accomplishments. Nothing comes easy especially in the music industry – whether it’s working with new people or finding ways to get more people to listen to you, it takes a lot, and, in the process, I have figured out a lot about myself.
If you could summarise it, what would be the story of how you became a musician?
I grew up in a family that works in radio so starting at a super young age I was always around so many different types of music! I would even co-host a folk music radio show on Sunday nights with my dad as like a 12-year-old … Everyone on it loved me! Music has been everything to me since before I could speak probably. My brother and I started writing songs at a super young age in our rooms here in LA. I remember when I was 10 and he was 7 we made our first electro-pop song called after party. It was about a guy who hurt me at an after-party. I don’t know where I drew my inspo from, but I remember freestyling the melody and being like “hey this is fun”. And it all took off from there.
What would you say the most important things are that you’ve learned about yourself as an artist?
The hard work never stops. The more success and achievements I get, the harder it makes me want to work. The Hussle and hard work never stops. Every milestone and benchmark of success that I hit makes me want to work harder.
Describe your sound in three words.
Funky, empowering, limit-pushing, and relatable… sorry I know that’s four lol.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Knowing that I’m an independent artist and have been streamed almost 10 million times, with no help or label support. Getting messages from fans from all over the world telling me how much they connect with the music and how I have helped them in any way, it is all so gratifying. But the thing I love most is when people can relate, and it inspires my fans to go out and get what they want!
Performing live / touring has taken a backseat due to the pandemic, how does the ‘new norm’ of releasing music impact you? And where would be your ideal venue of choice to perform at after this is over?
My dream is to perform at Staples Center because I’m from LA and grew up going to concerts there! My first ever concert was there, and I always told myself that one day it would be me! The new norm has actually allowed me to find new fans during this time. More people being online and in need of new music and creative has worked in my favour, as a lot of people have discovered and started loving my music during this time.
What’s next? Are you working on an EP or an album you can share with us?
Some reallyyy cool singles to get us through the rest of the year! A bigger album will come next year, but my favourite song to come will be released early October so stay tuned!